I can't believe that I've been so busy recently that I never even posted this entry about the recent hearing about Union Hall's liquor license. I know this is old news to most people that I know but for those who don't live in Brooklyn, this will be new.
So Union Hall is a bar in the neighborhood where I work. I've been to weddings there. Bands play there downstairs. There's bocce. My school has faculty parties there. It is a good place. But some no-funnicks have been trying to shut it down. Gothamist wrote about it. If you are even remotely interested in the backstory, I highly recommend you read this post and some of the links. Even the NY Times mentioned it in an article two Sundays ago (wow this post really is outdated at this point).
POOR Union Hall. First, there was the tempest in a sippy cup stirred up in Brooklyn last February by this bar-brunch-boccie spot’s ban on children in strollers. And just last week, a subcommittee of the P*rk Sl*pe community board — swayed by an army of pitchfork-wielding locals — dealt the joint a harsh, if symbolic blow: no liquor license renewal until you do something about the noise. Though the full board overruled the committee within days, the blogosphere’s critics and conspiracy theorists had already drawn their conclusions: “It’s the revenge of the Stroller Moms.”
Anyway, Jim, Mitch, and I went to the Community Board meeting to show our support. It was pretty fascinating.
Apparently, Gothamist is pretty well read, huh? A number of people e-mailed me to tell me that they saw my picture on it. There I am proudly wearing my Hong's Seafood jacket. I'm an Internet Superstar!
The following photos are from this excellent Flickr set.
A hush fell over the crowd.
Opinionated Italian Dude
Voting Time. Only four voted against it.
The day after the hearing, Jim, Mitch and I put our thoughts on the event into e-mail form.
Listmaker: I'm not sure what my favorite part of last night was.
Was it the fired-up Italian guy who seemingly was only against Union Hall because Brooklyn Social Club keeps him up at night and that smoking is the scourge of our nation?
Or maybe the shady developer who was voting against height requirements even though she claimed to be for the plan?
Or maybe the competing bar owner who was only voting his conscience against Union Hall because he was a "gentlemen?"
Or was it the grumpy other developer who lost his thing earlier in the night but then bitched later about Union Hall by stating, "I'm so glad that we've spent so much time discussing one bar on one block tonight." As opposed to it being okay to spend so much time earlier in the night discussing 15 blocks. 15 is okay but 1 isn't?
Flood: News 12 Brooklyn showed the feisty carpenter who hates Brooklyn Social Club. I liked that he was ragging on Union Hall for staying open until 4 a.m. and how he repeated it: "4! A! M!!" Maybe he is not aware that 4 a.m. is pretty much how late all bars stay open in New York, unless they don't have enough business to justify it. If you are that angry about closing times and cigarette smoking as a concept, why are you taking it out on one bar? Maybe he should run for governor and see if he can jumpstart some real change on those issues, instead of using a community board as a petty instrument for his own personal grievances.
My favorite for real was the woman who lives in P*rk Sl*pe and defended Union Hall by pointing out that Brooklyn is an urban environment and there are lots of things that are noisy, and if you don't like it you can always move. People who want total quiet should either live in the suburbs or the countryside.
I found it interesting how people used such disingenuous language. "Because I'm a gentleman...", "With all due respect...", "I agree with what this proposal proposes, yet I totally oppose it anyway." It's hard to know whether you're looking at a lack of self-awareness or blatant dishonesty or something in between.
Mitch: I agree - that woman made a smart, concise point and then stopped, which was refreshing compared to most others who just rambled on and on and said the same thing again and again before finally surrendering the microphone. Her examples of the noise neighbors of fire and police stations have to deal with in cities were right on the money, and I also appreciated the guy from the governor's office saying that it wasn't the fault of any bar owners that smokers are no longer allowed to smoke inside.
The guy who complained that UH should be blamed (and closed) because they allow and "encourage" smoking was ridiculous. If that's the case, every establishment that permits people (and its employees) to smoke somewhere outside should be shut down - grocery stores, airports, schools, etc.
I did appreciate the formalities of the meeting: people who passed on their turn to speak and then added their name back to the list in hopes of getting the last word, the inside jokes between board members that made no sense to any of the rest of us, and distinguishing between "abstention with cause" and "abstention without cause."
Listmaker: What made it even crazier was the World War I era veterans practicing for the Memorial Day parade in the lobby of the place. It added to the surreal aspect of the whole thing.
I also couldn't get over how small town the whole thing felt. I kept expecting Taylor from Gilmore Girls to show up and wrest the control of the microphone from the wanna be politicians overseeing the whole process.
Plus, let's not forget the beginning where Marty Markowitz showed up to give an award to distinguished youth and a hardworking tutor. In this "age of negative news about today's youth" it warmed my heart.
Let's go to one of these meetings again. I'm curious to see what it will be like when there are only a few people there because I'd guess that 90% of the people there were for Union Hall.
Who wants to go to the next Community Board Meeting with me?
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